In the wake of yesterday's loss, played in front of a less-than-capacity crowd at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay owner Stuart Sternberg voiced frustration over the situation and lack of support:
"I am frustrated this year. We’ve replicated last year [on the field] and our attendance numbers were down 15 percent and our ratings were down. The rubber has got to meet the road at some point here. When you go through the season, you control your own destiny, if you win out. We’re getting to the point where we don’t control our own destiny. This is untenable as a model going forward."
The Rays are one of the best-run organizations in baseball, have made the playoffs three of the past four years while playing in the A.L. East with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, and yet still can't draw fans.
There are mitigating circumstances, of course. Tropicana Field is, by all accounts, a lousy place for a ball game. Its location in St. Petersburg is inconvenient for a large portion of the population of the Tampa/St. Pete metropolitan area.
That said, when people aren't showing up to see a winning team, it is hard to ask ownership to buy out the lease and make arrangements for a privately funded stadium in Tampa, as Craig Calcaterra suggests in the link above. It does make sense for ownership to start exploring relocation options, though, and it sounds like that's about where Sternberg is.